After reviewing the site survey, photographs, and client interview, I developed a preliminary sketch to illustrate the main ideas that I would recommend for developing the property. My primary goals were to serve the needs of the client, keep it simple to maintain (lawn care is hired out) and preserve a modern - Shaker aesthetic. Furnishings and decor can - and will - evolve over time to suit the client's needs and changing tastes, but a strong foundation of spacial organization and quality hardscape design is the best place to begin.
|the original base map with existing features|
|my preliminary sketch with new features/changes in color|
Here are the highlights of my design concept:
#1 Create a New EntranceAlthough the client did not voice a concern about this issue, I think it is the number one thing they can do to make the front of their property not only look better, but be more welcoming and functional, too. The picket fence, in it's current location, encloses two narrow spaces that leave the main entry a bit ambiguous and the barn (guest house) courtyard isolated.
|from left: garden shed, barn (guest house) and main house|
|picket fence encloses a shallow front lawn and narrow side yard|
|view from existing gate towards main entry door|
The fence across the front of the house should be moved as well, to open the space between the house and the road, and to moderate the bowling alley affect of the long pathway and strip of grass. In conjunction with this, the addition of a few more bluestones and plants at the main door would provide a visual clue to the final destination - "Hey, it's down here!" - and be a more attractive and practical entrance area. The view from inside the house would be less cluttered, as well.
#2 Create a Patio and Pool AreaThe clients are interested in a new patio, better circulation patterns (getting from here to there) and, at some point, a swimming pool. The space immediately south (in back) of the house would be my choice for developing into a patio and pool area.
|view to future patio, pool, and pergola|
|a patio of cut bluestone squares would span this area|
|patio and pool detail|
#3 Create a Destination GardenThe client is not interested in a lot of gardening, although a cutting garden would be appreciated. The space adjacent to the driveway would be ideal for a series of raised beds.
|existing stone wall and stairway leading to lawn terrace|
|garden design detail|
#4 NaturalizeAllow nature to soften the edges. This fenced and mowed property, with its simply shaped buildings (and new hardscape!) looks a bit like it was dropped from the sky.
|existing delineation between wild and tame is a bit harsh|
#5 Final Notes
- About that lawn...I like the crisp, modern effect of the lawn going right up to the foundations of the buildings, and lawn care can readily be hired out. So for this client, at this time, in this place, I think it works well. Ideally, a low growing, sustainable groundcover could replace a large portion of this lawn and should be considered as a long term goal.
- The chicken coop (to be used now as a wood shed) has been relocated behind the barn. It will still be easily accessible, but less visible from the residence.
- The fire pit has been relocated near the existing shade trees. The shade trees will give a sense of enclosure and intimacy, and the canopy will help filter any smoke.
- No more red paint! In fact, take a sandblaster to the shed. All of the outbuildings (with the exception of the Garden House) should be allowed to weather like the barn.
Please visit my fellow members of the Garden Designers Roundtable to read their contributions to our Design Challenge:
Carolyn Gail Choi : Sweet Home and Garden Chicago : Chicago, IL
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN
Ivette Soler: The Germinatrix: Los Angeles, CA
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ
The real deal:
The presentation you've seen here (with the addition of a plant palette) is comparable to what I would create for a real client. Detailed drawings and specifications based on the client's feedback and input would be the next step of the design process.
And, finally, if any of my readers are interested in working with me on a long distance design project, please see my Services page above and get in touch!